Refugees in Europe

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#1

Hi all,

From Wednesday 23rd March to 3rd April i’m heading back to Calais/Dunkirk to help out with (re)building the support and care infrastructure for refugees along the French/English border after the site clearances.

Given that one of the areas The Culture Team are looking at is how the ER community can develop partnerships to help support refugee services i thought it might be helpful to be back ‘on the ground’ in Northern France.

Any support that people can offer would be really welcome. It’s unknown for now how easy it will be for me to spend time on the internet, but you can always email me directly at alexalevene@googlemail.com

Alex


#2

What kind of work

Well done, @Alex_Levene. What kind of work will you be doing, exactly? The more specific you are, the better we can reach out to get you help.


#3

Work

I’ll be volunteering through the same organisation as i went with before Crew for Calais (https://twitter.com/crewforcalais?lang=en-gb)

Crew for Calais are about to start working in the new refugee camp in Dunkirk.  The camp has been built by Medecins Sans Frontieres and is being run by Utopia56 (www.utopia56.com) The Dunkirk camp is brand new, and for now accommodation and essential utilities such as water and the camp kitchens are being completed.  Following that, the cultural spaces will be set up. I know that the team behind Good Chance Theatre (http://goodchance.org.uk/) are planning to expand their activities and set up new spaces at both Calais and Dunkirk. I hope that i can make contact with them and see if Edgeryders might be able to help expand their operation and draw in support and volunteers from around Europe.

A number of their volunteers will be carpenters helping to build new shelters and new communal areas and we’re looking for more people who fit into these groups:

- skilled carpenters to build the camp kitchens

skilled welders and carpenters to work on accommodation projects in the camp

people who are competent with tools to assist with the above

people who are able to work with a smile on their faces in the cold, to work in all other areas of the camp, including welcoming refugees, security and aid distribution

people who have cars, who are willing to drive themselves and other volunteers to France, as well as between the accommodation and the refugee camp

I will be going out to initially work in the distribution warehouse giving longer term support to the people based there and acting as a central point for volunteers coming over through Crew4Calais for shorter stays.

Initially i’m going for 10 days, but i could be there until the end of April, or even longer if possible.

Because i’m in the warehouse i’ll be able to put out regular calls for specific areas of aid that are required for the camps (i already know that we’re in desperate need of fire extinguishers already)

Money

Aid

Amplification of the voices and stories coming from the camps

Anything that the ER community thinks could help people on the ground

Alex


#4

That’s so impressive

@Alex_Levene good luck with all this… it seems that your presence can be instrumental for assessing needs on site and what a global network like us can do, whether it’s where the nascent Culture team can do work or as part of OpenCare - I don’t know if you’ve seen, but migrant/ refugee care is one of the areas we’ll be focusing on. We would be especially good at amplifying voices from the ground - organising trips and doing a lot of storytelling.

For the more practical work-with-your-hands needs, we can of course push out a call to recruit skilled people, of course once you have the exact coordinates, conditions and a critical timeline.

It will be up to you I guess, once you return.

Wondering if @Lauren is doing some work in Calais and now Dunkirk as I see her reporting from there on other channels? If you, you should meet.


#5

On the ground

At present there is one large warehouse based in Calais that distributes aid (tents, blankets, sleeping bags, clothes, food, basic medical, tarpaulin etc) to both the ‘jungle’ in Calais and to the new official camp in Dunkirk.

Currently they are massively understaffed for volunteers to sort through the donations that arrive every day from all over Europe. If there are any members of the ER community who can get to Calais or Dunkirk in the next few days to help out then their help would be greatly appreciated. I have a car so can collect people from trains/buses etc. If so please email me and i will do what i can to help suggest accommodation options.

Similarly if there are any members who have access to large vans and would be interested in a long drive across Europe we have a load of aid that is not useful on the ground in Calais, but would be very helpful at other centres further back along the migrant trail (ex. we currently have far too many childrens clothes and toys donated from UK that would be much better if it could be transported to Greece or Macedonia)

Everything at the Calais warehouse in run by volunteers who have to come and go around other parts of their lives and so there isn’t much in the way of long term management and planning. Those who are here are over stretched and exhausted. Especially at the new camps which are much better managed and set up but now have to comply with Health and Safety legislation which means lots more work for everyone.

For now we know that both camps are staying put and that there will continue to be people coming to them who need our help. We foresee no change in this situation for the rest of 2016.

Over Easter weekend i will be out delivering aid to the camps by car. I will be meeting with refugees from all over the world, handing out blankets and assessing any other needs that they may have. I will try to collect stories from them and find a way to share them if possible. Perhaps i should set up a seperate strand or project to help share these. There are a few other ideas i have but for now i will see what occurrs over the next few days.

I hope to write a bit each evening about experiences and stories. I will start by focussing on helping the team at the warehouse as much as possible, but if there are any conversations that would be ESPECIALLY useful for me to have whilst i’m here, that would feed into the Culture or Op3nCare strands then please let me know.

Alex


#6

Checking trains for saturday

Will text/email you.